Ludwig Camper Van Beethoven

It sounded as if we were dragging a huge metal chain beneath the car as we hit the brakes and pulled off the highway in Missoula. Luckily, we were less than a mile from Mitch and Melissa’s house, owners of Ludwig Camper Van Beethoven and Gertrude. We ignored the bus problems for the evening and shared that beer and pizza. We rolled in pretty late, so their daughter was already asleep, but Bode still enjoyed all her toddler toys. Especially the plastic keyboard- he’d never seen anything like it!

Bode was eager to lend a hand making selections from Mitch’s vinyl collection.  Despite Mitch’s clear unease, he let Bode pick out some classic Stones (his dad’s) and a few other goodies. The “don’t touch dad’s vinyl” rules that have been in effect over the decades are still being enforced across the country.  Bode had to admit he’s never seen a record player, which is probably true.

We spent the evening swapping stories… my favorite was their transmission problems in Death Valley– car stuck in 2nd gear.  What would you do? Well, they decided to drive it home to Santa Barbara over 400 miles away—at a speed of about 28 mph. It took them 2 days.

The next morning the guys got to work on those brakes.  We actually brought along spare brake pads, but I think getting the tires off took the longest.  Tools were bent. Anyway, the old pads were worn down to the metal backing, so problem solved.

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While the guys worked on the bus, Melissa and I took the kids on a walk near the river. Lots of stick throwing, duck watching and fun facts about Missoula.

Their family had moved to Missoula because it offered all the things they were looking for when choosing a place to live–close to lots of camping, mountains, good quality of life and a community spirit. Sounded good to us, and when we explored the town with them we could see why they loved it. Mitch and Melissa are hard core winter campers, so we got a few ideas on keeping warm. Unfortunately, most involved more stuff.

The famous Carousel wasn’t running, but the kids loved the park next to it and river that apparently needed more rocks added to it.

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There was so much to do and they were such a cool family we wished we had more time. We are shooting to visit our good friends in Wisconsin by Halloween, and time is not on our side.  Might be time for a new plan.

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5 thoughts on “Ludwig Camper Van Beethoven

  • October 22, 2009 at 11:17 AM
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    WISCONSIN???
    It is definitely time to start moving Down To Texas! 🙂
    Can’t wait to see you!!

  • October 22, 2009 at 2:20 PM
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    Wisconsin,October/November… heh? I’d a thought that yall’d had enough of the cold with that trip up into Canada, eh?…Now, Montana, and ya know, there’s no warm way to get to Wisconsin from there!
    It’s gotta be gettin’ close to time to follow the birds, and head south for the winter.

    I’m glad to hear you keep meeting up with more great folks along the way..May the Karma stay with you!

    As for the coffee pot cookery… hilarious…I see a cookbook coming out….desperate measures for desperate folks in desperate times! Just might be a recession era best seller.{:>)

    Safe travels….

  • October 22, 2009 at 8:57 PM
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    We woke up this morning to snow outside the bus. We’re starting to get used to it! However, we are talking about sipping cerveza on the beach in Mexico a lot more frequently now 😉

  • October 22, 2009 at 10:19 PM
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    It really was so nice meeting you guys. If you come back this way, we’d love to do some tandem camping next time. Looking forward to seeing how many giant sapphires you scored.

    It’s nice to wake to snow outside the bus. It can really put a damper on the day when the snow makes it in.
    -Melissa

  • October 23, 2009 at 10:31 AM
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    Hello! I am part of a VW Bus club in Minneapolis. This trips sounds great! But I hope you have your heater boxes working if you are driving up in this area this Fall/Winter! Ha!
    I saw that you are planning on going through Guatemala too. I use to go to Guatemala almost every year in the late 90s and early 00s. I am so jealous you are doing it in your bus! I would suggest starting in the Yucatan near Isla Mujeres (stay away from Cancun!) and go south maybe stopping at Xel-Ha and Tulum. Playa Del Carmen has become too touristy. Then make your way down to Chetumal near the Belize border. There is a Road going directly from Chetumal to Tikal, which is the route I would take. I don’t know Belize. I stayed in Belize city one night once. It seemed a bit dangerous. Tikal, Guatemala is where the ruins are. They are spectacular. From there I would travel to Guatemala City. The road use to be quite scary but I think they have improved the road since I was last on it. On the way to Guatemala City there is a cool cool Farm-hotel-hostel called Finca Ixobel. I highly recommend it. Everyone staying there contributes to a daily meal, there are horses running wild in the front pasture, they have tree houses you can stay in or very nice bungalows, or you can just hang a hammock. I am sure they would be ok with you camping in the bus. From Guatemala City I would head east to Antigua. It is as touristy as Guatemala gets, but it is still a nice town. quaint. From there, I would make sure I see Lago Atitlan, which is further east from Antigua. It is a beautiful lake surrounded by small villages. The main village that you will want to drive in to is called Panajachel. From there you can take a ferry across the lake to visit any of the other villages dotted around the lake.
    That is as much as I know. 🙂
    Sounds like you are headed for Wisconsin, but if you need a place to crash in Minneapolis. let us know.
    Robert

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